Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey (Tribes of Israel) by Barbara M. Britton

building-benjaminAbout the Book

Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers who died at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. His reason affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her own tribe.


I haven’t read Christian Fiction in a while but I knew I had to get this book immediately I saw it on NetGalley. I don’t know much about Naomi from the Bible apart from her story in relation to Ruth and this is one of the reasons as to why I was interested in this book. However, the book is really not based on the Biblical Naomi but it is more about the Israelite tribes.

The story begins at the dance where all the women were dancing in hopes of attracting suitable suitors. The tradition was that the suitors would then pay the bride price before taking the selected woman. However, raiders from the Benjamites tribe soon came in and kidnapped the women. Not only were the women forcefully taken away from their families but their fathers were also denied the bride price. The man who took Naomi is Eliab. I don’t know how to describe this well but the custom at that time was for the men to immediately sleep with the women that they intended to marry. The act sort of solidified the union. However, Eliab was different from the other men. He decided to wait until Naomi was ready. This was a complication though because his failure to ‘properly’ claim her meant that any other man could. So the couple decided to hide this part of their agreement.

The narration describes Naomi’s journey to the new tribe. She is distraught at being taken away from her family by a strange man. In addition, she is haunted by deaths of her brothers. Nevertheless, Naomi is portrayed as a brave woman as she tackled different challenges. She is compassionate even to those who don’t deserve it. I also liked how Eliab was portrayed as a God-fearing man. He was gentle and so different from the others in his tribe. It was interesting to see how the relationship between the two developed over time.

This book is very well-written with captivating prose. I found myself lost in ancient Israel, experiencing the cultures and beliefs of the characters. Towards the end of the story, the story was so intense that I couldn’t stop turning pages to see how it ends. I think the ending was befitting and satisfactory. Barbara Britton did an amazing job with this book. She used Biblical narratives to create stunning work of fiction. However, the message wasn’t lost in the story. I liked how the character’s faith was subtly portrayed without the book losing its storyline. Building Benjamin by Barbara Britton is a book that I recommend to fans of Christian and Historical Fiction.

Book Review:Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

This was my second Christian Fiction Book. The first one was Halos by Kristen Heitzmann. There is so much to say about Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. I took quite some time (a month) reading the whole book. It’s quite big but also very interesting.

Her Mother’s Hope traces the life of Marta from her childhood all the way to her adulthood where she now has grandchildren. It tells the story of strength and determination despite obstacles. Marta struggled from childhood to have a good life. She was described as being intelligent but then again being a girl; she didn’t get much support to pursue her education. She was also described as being unattractive and this also impacted on her life and on how other people related with her. The first section of the book is narrated abour Marta and it details her life from childhood to her marriage.

The second section of the book is narrated by Hildemara, Marta’s daughter. The relationship dynamics between mother and daughter become more evident in this section. However, there is an obvious conflict between Marta’s hopes for her daughter and the interpretation of her actions by Hildemara. This conflict is heartbreaking and confusing. Like Hildemara, I found myself confused by Marta’s actions most of the time.giphy

The third section is narrated by Marta and it sort of explains the second section. Marta’s actions become clearer. It was more heartbreaking reading this section especially keeping in mind Hidemara’s thoughts in section 2. My heart ached for the two just thinking about the misunderstanding and how it had shaped their thoughts about each other.

hhI cried buckets while reading this book. Each time I thought the storm had passed, another one came and so did the tears. It was an emotional but beautiful book. The aspect of Christianity and faith was the background of the whole story. Prayers, Bible and belief all featured in one way or the other although this was all in the background. Apart from religion, the book is also set against a historical background covering the two world wars. There is also an aspect of immigrants to America and how they were perceived due to the various roles that their countries played in the war.


IMG_20160228_161942I have the second book in the series, Her Daughter’s Dreams and I can’t wait to read it. I am already bracing myself for the emotional roller coaster which I know will definitely come. Francine Rivers is an amazing writer. At the end of Her Mother’s Hope she explains that the book was inspired by some events that took place in her own life.

I recommend this book to everyone interested in reading about love, family, hopes and dreams. It is an amazing book and although I hardly rate books, this I gladly give 5 stars.

Book Review: Halos by Kristen Heitzmann



As I mentioned on this blog before, I decided to read a few novels under the Christian Fiction genre this month. After all, it’s the month of Easter and I recently found books by two Christian authors that came highly recommended. One of my senior colleagues at work gave me two copies of Francine Rivers books and our library just got two copies of Kristen Heitzmann Books.
Review, Shall we?
Halos by Kristen Heitzmann

I saw this book at the library and picked it because of the lovely cover. I was intrigued by the blurb and absolutely had to read the book. Halos is a story about Alessi Moore, a twenty one year old looking for a fresh start. Lessi is somewhat naive; she believes in the goodness of everyone and seems to trust that halos are an indication of good things.

She arrives at a beautiful small town called Charity and spots what looks like a halo hence believing that she had found a new place where she could have a fresh new start in life. However, minutes after arriving in Charity, her red mustang gets stolen leaving her with nothing but the clothes that she was wearing. Alessi ends up stranded, at the mercies of strangers who not all are friendly and a psychopath who is taunting her.


IMG_20160310_200103The book is full of suspense. I kept trying to guess the identity of Alessi’s stalker. Everyone looked like a suspect at some point. There was also the constant mention of a pact that the town had. The Sheriff had an attitude that I just couldn’t understand. He wasn’t even trying to find her car. This book was definitely intriguing. It was also well paced with a number of twists along the way.

The characters were so endearing that I wanted to move to Charity. Well apart from the fact that a psychopath was running loose, stealing cars and taunting lone women. I liked the kind-hearted men who took Lessi in and even Steve with his mistrust issues. Alessi was effortlessly likable, her innocence and strength despite the hardships that she had gone through in life were charming. Heitzmann  did a wonderful job with the overall character development in this book.

Halos by Kristen Heitzmann is a beautiful book about love, forgiveness and the power of prayer. It’s the kind of book that makes you think about your faith. I enjoyed this book and I definitely look forward to reading The Tender Vine by Christen Heitzmann which is now sitting on my bookshelf. Kristen Heitzmann is a skillful storyteller and I hope to read many more books from her.


I found Kristen’s Interview online. It is quite insightful.





Christian Fiction: Short Story of the Month

The Easter holidays were really tough for her. She had expected that they would be but had always assumed that they would get easier with time. Nonetheless, being in church on Good Friday had taken all her strength not to break down and cry. She had little Freddie seated next to her and so had to keep it together. Nevertheless, with a heavy heart, she watched young couples seated together, sharing secret smiles during the service and leaving church hand in hand. She watched as the family cars drove away as she got in behind the wheel of her car with Freddie by her side.

Maggie and Little FreddieIt was nice to have her son but still, she still wished her husband Mark was still around.
It didn’t make sense to her the way he died. He was a young man, only 30 years old and they had only been married for two and a half years. One day, he had woken up in the morning complaining of a severe headache. A few hours later, Maggie was standing at the hospital in utter shock as the doctor sorrowfully informed her of her new status as a widow. Brain aneurysm was the documented cause of death. It just didn’t add up. Mark had always led a healthy lifestyle, eating well and working out. In addition, Maggie didn’t understand why his case was untreatable yet there were people living with the same condition. Doctors explained that his condition had been diagnosed late but still, it didn’t make sense to Maggie. Mark had been fine. They were expecting their first baby and had just moved to their own house. Life was looking up for the young couple then suddenly, everything changed.

man plus paged woman
Two years later, Maggie was still grieving. She was having a very hard time trying adjusting to life as a widow. In addition, it broke her heart that Freddie was growing up without ever having met his dad. Family and friends had always tried to be there for her and help her out but it just wasn’t the same. She still slept on her own side of the bed, sometimes in Mark’s t-shirt and would breakdown in tears every time she heard some of their favorite songs playing. grave image
Maggie was lost in her reverie relieving her pain and shock at having lost Mark. The holidays seemed to have brought it all back.
“Maggie… Maggie…” She heard someone tap on her window.
Maggie quickly wiped away her tears and rolled down her window. It was Martha, an elderly woman from the church who had always been so kind to her.old woman
“Are you okay?”

Martha asked as her face creased in concern.

Maggie answered feeling embarrassed at being caught crying

Martha went on to invite her to a special seminar for ladies to be held in the church. Maggie assumed that it was just one of those ladies meeting but she got curious when Martha told her that the seminar was called ‘Ruth’. She knew the Biblical story of Ruth, the widowed Moabite woman who later got married to Boaz. This definitely caught her interest. Maggie promised to attend the seminar.Ruth and Boaz
Saturday was a quiet day for Maggie and Freddie. This was the day that has always been described as the “waiting period”. Christ died on Friday; Saturday was the waiting period before Sunday when he rose again. Maggie quietly wondered if she was going through her own waiting period before things get better again. She couldn’t wait for her Sunday to come.

Life had really changed for her since Mark’s passing. Being in her late twenties, all her friends seemed to be at the stage where they were getting married or starting their own families. Every weekend, there were baby showers and also weddings to attend. However, people seemed to be uncomfortable inviting Maggie to the occasions anymore. Maybe they just felt sorry for her or perhaps they just didn’t want a reminder of how things could just turn around abruptly.


Some people also just didn’t know what to say to her. Whenever they tied to talk to her, they would end up saying the wrong things.

“Wow, I still can’t believe that Mark just died!”
“I wouldn’t be able to live without my husband; I would really rather die honestly.”
“Poor Freddie, being fatherless and all…”

Their pity and sometimes misplaced consolation sometimes made things worse for her and there are moments when she just preferred to be on her own.
She also had a difficult time facing life’s challenges alone. A year after Mark’s death, her mother had a stroke and died. She had been a rock for her during the difficult months after Mark’s death. Having been widowed herself years back, her mother was able to walk with Maggie and encourage her. When she died, Maggie was left feeling alone, confused and angry at life. She was heartbroken and wished that there was someone with her to help her deal with the loss of her mother. She thought of how Mark used to make her feel better during her tough times but now, he was no longer there. Maggie feared that she may not be able to weather life’s storms on her own.index
Now having spent her Saturday indoors, Maggie felt that she and Freddie deserved an outing after church on Sunday. There was a lovely little restaurant with a playground right around the corner from her house. She knew that there would be other families and it may be a tough scene but just the thought of being able to do something fun with Freddie gave her the strength to go out.
They sat at the corner for a while having their lunch. Freddie looked excited to be outdoors and soon Maggie had him at the playground playing with other kids. After a while, she sat down at the bench and watched Freddie with another little boy playing and laughing like with no care in the world. Watching Freddie always made her happy. It was a reminder of the good life that she once had with Mark. He would have been proud of their little handsome boy had he still been around.

“That’s my little Mike…” A voice said interrupting her. “And my name is Tony.”

“Maggie and that is Freddie.”

She said politely pointing at her son who was now chasing little Mike around the park as the pair laughed and screamed happily.
She stole a secret glance at the stranger. He was tall, a little on the skinny side but had nice kind eyes and a lovely smile. He was definitely charming too. Maggie was wary of men ever since Mark died. There were always men hitting on her but she didn’t feel ready to date yet. In addition, she had met all kinds of men who wanted to take advantage of her loneliness, some who were even married.

Man and woman at the park
“Where is his mother?” Maggie blurted out immediately regretting her bluntness.

“I lost my wife a few years back, just me and Mike now.”

He answered without flinching. Maggie was so embarrassed at having asked a stranger such a private question.
They sat for a while watching their children playing and engaging in small talk. They talked about the weather and just random things. He made her laugh and she enjoyed watching him fuss over little Mike every time he fell or called out to him. The afternoon went quite well and Maggie was surprised at just how much she had enjoyed Tony’s company.woman-talking-to-man-happy-faces-54693636
“Hope to see you again Maggie,” Tony said as they parted ways.
Maggie smiled to herself embarrassed to admit that she also hoped to see him again soon. She still felt guilty at times like she was being unfaithful every time she noticed a handsome man. An afternoon with Tony made her feel both guilty and a bit excited at the same time.
However, every time that she thought about dating again, Maggie always assumed that she would have to settle for less. It was hard for a widow to meet great guys especially with a child in tow; well that is what she assumed anyway. She just felt like she was carrying a lot of emotional baggage for someone else to want to be with her. She also couldn’t imagine ever meeting anyone like Mark. He was her soul mate, the man who had always made her laugh and had been her best friend for years. However, she couldn’t help but smile when she thought of little Mike and his dad.huge.1.7909



“Mike is a great playmate, isn’t he?”

She asked her little companion who rewarded her with a chuckle. It seemed that Freddie had also enjoyed his afternoon out and Maggie couldn’t be happier.thumb_COLOURBOX7750874

On Easter Monday, Maggie went back to church and registered for the “Ruth” meeting. She didn’t think about it much after that.

It was in June when the ‘Ruth’ meeting was scheduled. Maggie woke up that day feeling excited about it. She had organized for a babysitter for Freddie so that she could attend the meeting. At the church, Maggie was surprised by the huge turn-out. There were so many ladies at the meeting, all dressed up and looking excited.women talking.jpg

“Good morning ladies…” Martha was there to welcome them all.

The meeting was great with a lovely fellowship that really lifted Maggie’s spirits. The sermon was about ‘second chances’ and it was based on the book of Ruth. The ladies were encouraged about being women of virtue even during their toughest times. The speaker reminded them of how Ruth had stood with her mother in law during her difficult moments after being widowed and loosing both her sons. Ruth was going through her own difficulties of having being widowed but still put her pain aside to be with Naomi. She was ‘hesed’. Her being a woman of virtue with such a great things is one of the things that Boz noticed about her.

illustration_8 by Mike Fentz.jpgThis wonderful illustration was done by Mike Fentz

Ruth 2:11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

Maggie also liked the encouragement that was given to women especially those who were single for whatever reasons. They were told that when they meet the right man, he would come to look for them. He would be unattached and would treat them like they were special.

Ruth 2: 5-8
5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

The message made her feel uplifted. Maybe there was someone out there for her. A second chance at love and she wouldn’t have to settle for less than what God had planned for her. After all, Boaz was a good man, wealthy, kind and a good husband to Ruth so she also had hope of meeting her own Boaz someday.

The rest of the meeting went well and the ladies had a great time sharing and laughing together. Maggie was surprised to meet other young ladies some who had never been married while others like her who had been widowed. They all had their own struggles but still had faith of someday meeting their own Boaz. She was glad to make a few more friends who were in the same position as her.

“Did you enjoy the meeting?” Martha asked her afterwards.

“Thank you so much for the invitation, I’m really glad I came.”

“God is with you Maggie and you just need to trust Him more and let him know what you need,”

Martha then surprised Maggie by revealing that she had also been widowed at a young age. It had taken her years before meeting her current husband, Frank and now they were happily married with two children of their own. She encouraged Ruth and prayed with her before leaving.

Leaving the church, Maggie found herself smiling and thinking about the sermon. Mark was her first love and the father of her child and she would always hold his memory dear. However, for the first time in over two years, she felt lighthearted and encouraged.
She also found herself thinking of the past Easter Sunday and the afternoon at the playground. Maggie decided that she would be open to the idea of another play date some day soon. Hopefully, Tony would also be at the playground with little Mike.

Ruth 4:14- Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!

NB:All illustrations were from google images. All the artists are acknowledge and appreciated. I have also attributed Mike Fentz, whose amazing illustration was not watermarked.